But let all who take refuge in you be glad; let them ever sing for joy. Spread your protection over them, that those who love your name may rejoice in you.
Can you name a favorite worship song or hymn from five years ago? Ten years ago? From your childhood? My guess is that you can. There’s a good reason for this: In God’s design, the part of our brain that processes music sits right next to the part of our brain that stores memory.
This is one of the reasons that setting truth to music matters so much. From memorizing the alphabet to memorizing the books of the Bible, if something is important to remember, we often invent a melody to help us find that truth over and over again. During the Christmas season, music fills the air, and the best songs are the songs that help us remember.
When Jesus entered the world as Messiah, those around him celebrated with songs. The gospel of Luke gives us four different songs of praise, wonder and adoration: Mary’s song, Zachariah’s song, the song of the angels and the song of Simeon (Luke 1:46-55, 1:67-79, 2:14, 2:29-32). Each one is beautifully unique, reflecting God’s glory as experienced by the one singing, but also capturing the hopes of their community and their shared longing for the redemption of creation.